Wellcome vows to take action against its ‘institutional racism’

The Wellcome Trust, Britain’s largest charitable donor, is an “institutionally racist organisation” and must do more to promote diversity, the medical research charity acknowledged in a statement MEA fault on Wednesday.

Its board and senior management have pledged to make Wellcome “an anti-racist organisation”, both in the way it treats its staff and in the way it funds outside researchers.The move was in response to a survey finding Internal investigation Racism within the trust revealed Wednesday.

The trust’s leaders said it would “create a dedicated funding stream for researchers of black and colour” and “apply principles of positive action to research funding decisions so that when applications are of similar value, Wellcome Applications that expand diversity will be favored.”

“Wellcome has played and will continue to play a role in sustaining racism within its own operations and the wider research sector,” said the charity’s director Jeremy Farrar. “I’m sorry for the actions and inactions behind this, and for the hurt and disappointment caused by it.”

Other medical research institutes have recently recognised structural racism, including the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, but Wellcome expects its scale and reach will allow its anti-racism programmes to have a broad impact across academia and science .

“Through harmful actions and inaction, Wellcome is perpetuating and exacerbating systemic racism within the wider research sector in which it operates,” it commissioned social investment consultancy and The Better Org after first admitting in June 2020. an 85-page assessment. It perpetuates racism.

“As a charitable foundation that will spend at least £16 billion on science over the next decade to address the pressing health challenges facing everyone, we know Wellcome has great power,” Farrar said. “We’re doing too little to use that power to fight racial inequities in research.”

The report does not systematically compare Wellcome’s performance with other funders, whether charities such as the British Heart Foundation or government organisations such as UK Research and Innovation.

But it lists some examples of good practice elsewhere. For example, the Cancer Institute is making special efforts to support staff from black and minority communities, it said.

Even within Wellcome, the assessment found “good practice across the organization . . . a prime example is the mental health team creating an anti-racism working group to support the implementation of anti-racism principles and toolkits into their daily routines. at work”.

However, it said many Wellcome employees “experienced discrimination and harassment,” with 25 percent of blacks and people of color reporting unfair treatment or discrimination because of their status. It said that with insufficient support from the foundation’s leadership, employees had to rely too heavily on their own networks to create change.

Wellcome received positive reviews on social media after the report was published. “Thank you for being open here,” said Hilary Snaith, manager of the Infectious Diseases Network at the University of Edinburgh. “I wonder how many other organisations are willing to share similar reports and acknowledge the flaws they find.”

Details of the trust’s new anti-racism plan will be worked out in the coming months, Wellcome said.

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